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Polls Are Now Open On Primary Day In New York

Today is primary day in New York state. Polls opened at noon upstate.

In the Democratic primary, first-term Troy Mayor Patrick Madden faces a challenge from former City Council President Rodney Wiltshire, who lost a three-way Democratic mayoral primary to Madden in 2015 by just 45 votes.

Among Wiltshire's backers: the Troy Uniformed Firefighters Association. Union officials told WAMC they decided to endorse Wiltshire after Madden failed to respond to their concerns. Firefighters did not endorse a candidate in the 2015 election.

Tuesday morning, Madden announced the endorsement of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
"Mayor Madden will continue to lead on these important issues, and I am pleased to support his reelection.”

Hudson Mayor Rick Rector, nearing the end of his first term, goes against 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson.  Johnson promises to "stand up for everyone."   "It's important to speak for the people that don't have a voice."

Johnson is endorsed by the Working Families Party, while Rector has endorsements from both the Democratic and Republican parties. "Coming up with real answers and real solutions is what we're all about," said Rector.

In Schenectady, Democratic Mayor Gary McCarthy is being challenged by political newcomer Thearse McCalmon in his bid for a third term. His supporters say he’s cut property taxes four years in a row and welcomed casino gambling to the Electric City.  "People have treated Schenectady as a second class city, kinda the butt of jokes, now people see it as a real opportunity for investment, for entertainment, for work opportunities.  I want to continue to build on that, want to attract people to this community and create real value."

McCalmon says she supported him in the past, but times have changed.  "Today our challenges have become so different and have grown so much outside of bringing solvency to our financial situation in Schenectady that I feel like Mayor McCarthy is not capable of recognizing that. We need to ensure that every resident in the city of Schenectady feels welcome and is supported by our city. At this time it is not."

Thearse McCalmon
Credit LinkedIn
Thearse McCalmon

With voter turnout a big question mark for the summer primary, a race that garnered a lot of attention is for mayor of Cohoes, where first-term Democratic Mayor Shawn Morse faces three primary opponents — and a federal trial. 

In February, Morse pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and misuse of political funds to pay for home repairs and vacations. Currently free on federal pretrial probation, Morse’s trial is set to begin in July. He could face up to 25 years in prison and fines that could run as high as $500,000.   "I really believe that we'll win this race and we'll continue to not only move the city forward but get our name cleared on all of this stuff and start living our lifes again without all of these things, you now, pulling at my heartstrings. I'm confident."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Steve Napier, Mayor Shawn Morse, Peter Frangie, Bill Keeler

City Councilman Steve Napier has been endorsed by the Times Union, which printed a number of scathing articles alleging domestic abuse on the part of Mayor Morse.

Retired New York State Police troop commander Major Bill Keeler and former city treasurer Peter Frangie also hope to unseat Morse.

In Albany County, there are races for 14 seats on the County Legislature. In District 1, legislator Lucille McKnight faces three hopefuls: former Albany Common Council President and mayoral candidate Carolyn McLaughlin and Carmen Rau and Ira Bethea.

After serving 24 years, Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners is not seeking another term. Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar and Albany Chief City Auditor Susan Rizzo face off in the Democratic primary.
In Greene County, a Republican primary features two retired New York State Police investigators, Peter Kusminsky and Diana Benoit. They’re vying to replace current Sheriff Greg Seeley, who is retiring after 12 years.  Benoit would be the county's first female sheriff.

In the Town of Ballston, Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak is being challenged by Eric Connolly. Szczepaniak, who is seeking a third term, has been endorsed by the Ballston Republican Committee. Connolly has been endorsed by the Smart Growth Ballston group.

In the Town of Milton, first-term Supervisor Scott Ostrander is being challenged by current town council member Benny Zlotnick Jr. Zlotnick has clashed with Ostrander on the town board, in particular over failed negotiations to purchase the former Boyhaven Cub Scout camp.

There are several other races. Polls are open until 9 p.m.  Here’s a link to find your polling place.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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